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A hearing was held in Newark recently, regarding the new proposed rules that will, if promulgated, prohibit prescribers from accepting uncapped compensation from pharmaceutical companies. Drug companies have previously been permitted to provide prescribing physicians with lavish meals, compensation for consulting work, and speaking engagements—or at least there has been no regulation prohibiting such conduct. The rules are proposed as part of Governor Christie’s plan to curb the epidemic of prescription opioid abuse.
In 2016, drug companies and medical device manufacturers paid close to $70 million to a small group of New Jersey doctors. One pain management practitioner in New Jersey alone has been charged with accepting over $135,000 from one drug maker, while prescribing the powerful painkiller fentanyl to patients who did not meet the federal standards for needing the drug. The State is currently seeking the revocation of his license. The State Attorney General stated during the hearing that although most New Jersey physicians strive to make informed, professional treatment options for all of their patients, there are exceptions. The concern is that some doctors may be influenced by the lavish spending.
The new rules propose to:
There are some exemptions that are set forth in the proposed rules. For example, some items are exempt from the prohibition on items for physicians’ personal use—such as educational materials that benefit the prescribers’ education or benefit patients. The exceptions also allow for “modest” meals that can be provided no more than four times per year, not to exceed $15 per provider.
The Attorney General’s Office began investigating this issue over a year ago. In an unusual turn, they announced the investigation at the onset, because they were so concerned about the public safety risk. The Attorney General’s Office has stated that it does not usually announce investigations to the public at their inception. The goal is to make sure that drugs are used in the best interests of the patient—and not indiscriminately prescribed.
At the hearing discussing the proposed rules, dozens of representatives from various pharmaceutical organizations and companies testified as to problems with the proposed rules. Specifically, they testified that the rules come with unintended consequences. Some fear that the rules will restrict access to drugs in clinical trials and may inadvertently raise the cost of health care.
If you have suffered injury as a result of medication error, the experienced South Jersey medical negligence lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. can help. Schedule your free consultation by calling us today at 856-354-9444 or contact us online. We handle medical malpractice claims throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania from our offices in Cherry Hill, King of Prussia, and Philadelphia.